Have you been looking around for a photographer and have a case of sticker shock each time you reach out to one you feel you connect with?
I WAS that person prior to starting my own photography business, and I remember being pissed when I ordered a canvas that was beautiful, but I didn't know why it cost so much. I wasn't educated on the WHY behind the price, and I now realize that particular photographer was actually underselling herself at the time!
Before I was the one who purchased the gear and the education, I didn't realize how much time and money it takes to run a photography business! A lot of the time and investment goes unseen by the client, so I thought I'd explain a bit about what exactly goes into pricing portraits.
Equipment & Business Costs
I about passed out at the price of my first professional grade camera I purchased---that came without a lens. So, in order to take the photos I wanted, I then had to purchase two lenses. Why am I telling you this? Because my photography bag I carry around easily has $5000 in it at a minimum. Photographers then have to also carry SD cards, flashes, and backups with them in their cute but functional camera bags.
Ultimately, photographers run a business, and it really took me a long time to look at it this way because I didn't begin taking portraits as a business but as an artist. I'm sure you've heard the term "starving artist" before, and I truly believe it's because artists don't think in "business" terms because it isn't in our makeup; we actually have to teach ourselves how to become business people! I finally had to look at it through a different lens: there are labor costs, and then there are parts that are also included into the final invoice, and that is when it connected for me.
The business costs of retouching the images, keeping the images safe on external hard drives or a cloud-based service, maintaining client galleries, and client scheduling and communication services are all items integrated into the costs. Usually, many of these come with a hefty monthly subscription. And don't forget the special screens, computers, and lighting we purchase to make our images the best we can. Each year I look at my equipment that needs upgraded/replaced and what I want to invest in education and photography courses.
There really is so much that goes into keeping a small business running, and so when you are looking at a photographer's work and questioning the rates, know that their rates were most likely set based on how much it costs to deliver amazing services and products, along with what they need to make to actually continue growing and to live.
Unseen Artistry Time
Yes, your photographer only spent an hour or two with you, but then they spent an upward of ten hours editing and perfecting your photos and ordering your products. AND we love every minute of it because we are artists. I personally started my photography business because I loved the entire process of photographing clients and working their images. I absolutely LOVE creating art through lighting and posing clients. But I do spend a lot of time learning new skills through workshops, conferences, and courses.
My Final Thoughts
Thank you if you are still reading-I tend to ramble! Ultimately, the photographer you choose wants to give you both a perfect experience and perfect portraits based on their individual style. And you SHOULD choose a photographer with the style you desire-I realize that might not be me.
At the end of the day, I too need to make a living for my family through my small business, but I truly hope that my photography skills and your experience with me make it worth your investment.
This is a page of my reflections. Nothing fancy, but I hope it entertains you!